Poland PM dismisses US criticism of media law

(Update: adds Polish PM remarks)

Krakow, Poland, Aug 12 (EFE).- Poland’s prime minister has dismissed remarks by the United States secretary of state criticizing the passage of a controversial media ownership law that would prevent a popular US-owned television channel from broadcasting in the country.

“Our American friends have nothing to fear,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference on Thursday after Antony Blinken had said on Twitter that the US was “troubled” by the “draft legislation that would gravely weaken media freedom.”

Morawiecki said the law would not be used to target any specific broadcasters, insisting that “it is necessary to tighten the system so that it is not possible for companies from outside the European Union to buy media (operating in Poland).”

The bill, pushed by Morawiecki’s ultraconservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), is known locally as the anti-TVN law, in reference to a private TV station owned by US-based company Discovery and which has been highly critical of the Polish government.

Under the draft law, TV channels that are not owned by companies based in the European Economic Area would not be granted a broadcast licence, which would pull TVN off the air as a US-owned company.

The bill was approved with 228 votes in favour and 216 against, and will now move on to the Senate, which could give its final approval or send the law back to the lower house.

The parliamentary session was the culmination of 24 hours of heightened tensions that saw Morawiecki’s minority partner, Accord, abandon the government coalition in protest against the legislation.

Morawiecki dismissed Deputy Prime Minister and Development Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, who is also the leader of Accord.

Gowin immediately announced his resignation and the end of the United Right coalition.

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